How to Plan a Work Retreat That’s Actually Productive and Fun

Work retreats can be beneficial for companies in so many ways. Having time away from the office can be relaxing for employees and give your team a chance to bond in a unique way. A refreshing environment can also be the perfect place to tackle projects and plan for the year.

Still, corporate retreats can be challenging to plan, especially when your employees have different needs and preferences. If you’re wondering how to plan a retreat that’s both relaxing and productive, discover how you can avoid common pitfalls and create an experience your staff will actually enjoy and remember.

What Is a Work Retreat?

A work retreat is a company-sponsored event lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days that provides a team with the opportunity to learn, strategize, and build camaraderie away from the day-to-day stress of the office.

Before you plan a work retreat, it’s important to consider your goals and what you hope to accomplish. While retreats often include plenty of time for enjoyment and team building, they must also focus on celebrating past accomplishments and gearing up for the year ahead.

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How to Plan a Company Retreat

Learning how to plan a work retreat can be a daunting task—there’s so much to consider. Here’s what you should be thinking about as you plan an unforgettable experience for your dedicated employees.

1. Create a Budget

Keep your budget in mind when planning a work retreat. It will be a determining factor in every decision you make, including location, accommodations, and activities.

Remember that retreats don’t have to be very expensive to be enjoyable. Take advantage of off-season travel rates or choose a local destination so you can charter a bus instead of paying for flights for your team. You can also consider hosting an in-house retreat for one to two days, which can help you keep costs for meals and activities within your budget.

In planning your retreat budget, it can be helpful to decide on a per-person price you are willing to spend and plan everything around that set cost. You may also want to look into working with a corporate retreat planner who can put together a package to suit your budget and may have access to special discounts, accommodations, and activities.

2. Send Out a Survey

Your staff likely has differing opinions on what they find enjoyable. With different tastes and preferences in weather, food, accommodations, and activities, how can you decide on a destination and agenda everyone will love?

A staff survey will help you understand everyone’s likes and dislikes. It also gives you the opportunity to gather information about food allergies, the need for accommodations for employees with disabilities, and any other information you should factor into your planning. While you may not be able to cater to everyone’s preferences, you can still plan an enjoyable retreat.

3. Choose a Location

Surveying your staff will help you pick a location that most people will love. Still, there are other things you must consider besides preferences.

Think about weather patterns during the time of year you’ll be traveling. Some locations are prone to strong storms during certain parts of the year, which can derail your retreat plans. Knowing what weather to expect will help you provide accurate advice about what employees should pack.

If you’re planning to leave the country, you’ll also need to think about whether everyone on your team will be able to travel safely and gain admittance to your chosen location. Consider any legal or political issues that may arise and plan accordingly to ensure everyone’s comfort and safety.

4. Book Accommodations

Try to book your accommodations as far in advance as possible. It will ease everyone’s minds if they know their lodging will be comfortable and meet their needs before they arrive at the retreat. You’ll need to think about whether there will be a private room for every team member or whether you’ll offer a room-sharing option for those who prefer it.

Additionally, you should consider your retreat agenda and whether you will require space for team meetings, meals, and activities. If so, those needs may influence your lodging decisions.

Accessibility is a key consideration. Your employees need to be able to get to and around the accommodations safely and easily. Be sure you know what your staff needs and how the accommodations will work for them.

5. Plan Your Meals and Snacks

Good food is part of an enjoyable retreat experience for your employees. You’ll need to think about each of the included meals and whether to have them catered, go out to a restaurant, or provide gift cards so that your employees can make their own choices.

Gift cards are a good idea if you’re planning an excursion or activity in a place where there’s a variety of food options. It's also a great option for virtual retreats where team members will need to supply their own food.

If you want to serve catered meals, survey your staff to determine the number and type of food allergies and preferences you need to accommodate.

6. Arrange Transportation

When thinking about transportation options, accessibility should be your first consideration. Since retreats are work-related activities, your transportation options should be able to make ADA-compliant accommodations for employees with disabilities. If you plan to visit an exclusive or remote location, consider how far the destination is and whether your staff will be comfortable with a long drive.

You should also consider how you will provide transportation to each excursion. This is much easier if your entire retreat will be held at a walkable resort or campground. However, if your activities are further away from your lodging, you may need to consider chartering a bus or renting a vehicle.

7. Structure the Agenda

Corporate retreats need to balance fun and team building with work meetings and strategy sessions. As you plan, make sure you structure an agenda that ensures important work-related elements are accounted for. For example, you may want to plan important meetings and sessions in the morning when everyone is refreshed instead of waiting until happy hour, when your staff may be tired or more distracted.

8. Take Care of Business

As you plan your retreat, figure out how projects and customer service will be taken care of while your team is gone. Some businesses decide to shut down for a few days to give everyone a break, but this isn’t ideal for every company. You may prefer to plan multiple retreats so entire teams can attend while the business continues to run.

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Work Retreat Ideas That Take Team Building to the Next Level

No work retreat is complete without team-building activities. In planning your activity agenda, it’s crucial to strike a good balance between having fun and getting work done. Here are a few activity ideas to help you accomplish that goal:

Remember to consider employees with disabilities and include the necessary accommodations. Every staff member should have the opportunity to enjoy time away from their desk to bond with their team.

A Well-Planned Retreat Creates Results Through Relaxation

The most important part of planning a retreat is ensuring your employees can truly rest and relax. This not only leads to greater productivity but also helps them bring their authentic selves to the trip so they can build camaraderie with their colleagues. By taking care of all the details and planning activities around employees’ needs and preferences, you can maximize the experience for everyone involved.

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